Planners are being asked to approve proposals for a new “landmark” footbridge to replace the Jumble Lane level crossing in Barnsley town centre, regarded as one of the most dangerous in the country and which is to close within months.
A planning application for the work has been submitted by Barnsley Council itself, but still needs to go through the same process as any other and gain approval from its planning regulatory board before any work can go ahead.
However, Network Rail is to close the Jumble Lane crossing in the Spring of 2019 and a temporary footbridge is proposed to maintain access until a permanent version is complete – which is expected to be the Autumn of next year.
The scheme features a highly distinctive bridge structure, with a single cantilever towards one end of the structure, with the walkway supported by a series of cables.
It is expected to cost £5m, with Barnsley Council and Network Rail sharing the cost and is expected to become a focal point on the town centre skyline, with plans to illuminate it with uplighters at night.
When Barnsley Council announced its intention to build the bridge, it announced there would be moving walkways – airport style – at each end of the bridge to help users negotiate the sloping sections.
Although the current level crossing is regarded as one of the most dangerous in the country, no details of any accident record there has been submitted with the application. A traffic assessment for the whole town centre shows 12 accidents at the Kendray Street/Pontefract Road junction – in the immediate vicinity – over the last five years but all were on a slip road and attributed to driver error.
Documents submitted with the application state: “The crossing is frequented by users who travel between Barnsley town centre and attractions to the east, primarily Oakwell football stadium and the Barnsley Metrodome.
“On match days, the crossing is used by thousands of football fans who arrive to football games by national rail and local bus services.
“The existing signal box and crossing will be closed by Network Rail in March 2019, regardless of the outcome of this planning application.
“The proposed bridge will be completed in Quarter four 2019. To ensure that access to and from the town centre is not impeded for users a temporary footbridge will be installed. The bridge will remain in place from the closure of the level crossing to the opening of the new footbridge.
“The proposal is designed to create a new landmark in Barnsley town centre, taking advantage of a key location in the town centre and linking with significant wider investment at the Glassworks development and enhancements to the public realm at locations including Eldon Street, Midland Street, Cheapside, Peel Square and Queen Street.
“The proposed development includes areas of landscaping at both sides of the bridge, which have been designed to be in-keeping with proposed landscaping throughout the town centre.”